Working Paper Abstract

"Culture and Institutions: economic development in the regions of Europe"
by Guido Tabellini (IGIER, UniversitÓ Bocconi and CEPR)


Does culture have a causal effect on economic development? The data on European
regions suggest that it does. Culture is measured by indicators of individual values
and beliefs, such as trust and respect for others, and confidence in individual selfdetermination.
To isolate the exogenous variation in culture, I rely on two historical
variables used as instruments: the literacy rate at the end of the XIXth century, and
the political institutions in place over the past several centuries. The political and
social history of Europe provides a rich source of variation in these two variables at a
regional level. The exogenous component of culture due to history is strongly
correlated with current regional economic development, after controlling for
contemporaneous education, urbanization rates around 1850 and national effects.
Moreover, the data do not reject the over-identifying assumption that the two
historical variables used as instruments only influence regional development through
culture. The indicators of culture used in this paper are also strongly correlated with
economic development and with available measures of institutions in a cross-country

Keywords: culture, economic development, trust, literacy, institutions.

JEL Classification: O10, F10, P10, N13

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Last updated February 27, 2007